As the 19-year old Keon Johnson continued to fall in the 2021 NBA Draft, the LA Clippers made a move to trade up for him. Entering the night, CBS Sports' latest Mock Draft had Johnson going 12th overall to the San Antonio Spurs.
Johnson is widely regarded as one of the best athletes in the draft, with his 48" vertical shattering the previous record of 45.5" that stood for 20 years. In one of Johnson's pre-draft appearances on television, he stated that his game is modeled after Kawhi Leonard, citing the defensive similarities between the two.
While Johnson is considered more of a project on the offensive end, with his 11.3 PPG on 45/27/70 splits at Tennessee not exactly jumping off the page, his defensive potential is expected to be seen right away. With his 6'5" 185 LB frame, Johnson possesses the physical tools needed to become a stifling backcourt defender with an ability to guard multiple positions.
The Clippers will be adding Johnson to a core of young players that contains Terence Mann, Amir Coffey, and Jay Scrubb. Perhaps not coincidentally, Johnson rounds out a quartet of young Clippers that all have an excess of athleticism.
With an opportunity to grow defensively under Patrick Beverley, while learning offensive tools from Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the Clippers development staff, Johnson seemingly has the potential to become an impact player for the Clippers sooner than later.
Because Kawhi Leonard is likely to miss at least the majority of the 2021-22 NBA season, Johnson might have an opportunity to compete for minutes off Ty Lue's bench during his rookie season.
Needless to say, Keon Johnson is likely to be must-see TV during the NBA Summer League and hopefully beyond.